HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: John Wick
HTS Overall Score:94
I can’t believe it’s been 2 and a half years since “John Wick” hit theaters. I still remember being hesitant to go see it, but the trailers were made of pure testosterone with a side of vodka and cigars. I couldn’t resist. I still stand by my statement of being one of the best action movies since “Taken” and probably my favorite “check your brain at the door” film in over 10 years. Sure, I know that it is not “Citizen Kane” or “Hell or High Water”, but it IS the epitome of a perfect action film. Guns, knives, slick cars, tough guy hitmen, and all the right appeals to the heart with a cute doggy who gets brutally murdered in a way that’s SURE to get everyone sympathizing with John’s plight. Now we have less than 2 weeks before “John Wick 2” comes out (I can’t believe I’m actually saying that a sequel is here!) and Lionsgate is releasing the 4K combo pack a mere 3 days before the movie drops into U.S. theaters. As usual, anything highlighted in black is going to be new to this review, in terms of the writeup, and anything non-bolded will be my original thoughts when I reviewed the. Or elements that have not changed from Blu-ray to 4K UHD.
One of the things that you learn early on in life is, never mess with a man’s dog. I don’t care whether it’s the jerk down the street, the cute yapping poodle that the little old lady owns, a space dog (think “Riddick), etc. You just don’t cross that line. There’s a reason a dog is considered “man’s best friend”, and the villains in “John Wick” are going to find out just exactly why in this revenge actioneer that drips awesome and bleeds cool. I saw the trailer for “John Wick” and was mildly intrigued, being that Keanu Reeves hasn’t been doing a whole lot of great films lately, but after watching the movie theatrically I fell in love once more. “John Wick” is vicious, brutal, amazingly cool and dripping with that sadistic level of 90’s cool that made the late 90s so much fun in the action department.
Meet John Wick (Keanu Reeves). He’s just had his life turned upside down as his wife of 5 years has just passed away due to cancer. Her final gift to him is a little puppy named Daisy. This dog was meant to be a comfort for him in the days of grieving ahead, but fate has something different in mind. Beaten within an inch of his life, robbed of his car by a mafia son whose greed knows no bounds, he awakes to find not only his house violated, his car stolen, but that precious gift of his wife’s lying dead beside him. For most people. This would be a heart wrenching experience, to a person who’s had his wife die a few days ago and then lose her final gift to him in that same week…..devastating, but to a career hit man who just had this happen to him…..yeah, it just got real.
John was once the most revered hit man in his known circle. Not only was he the greatest, a legend at the job, but he was also the right hand man of the creep’s father who took his car. Set on revenge, caring nothing about what happens, John leaves a trail of bodies and blood that will make the river Nile look pale pink in comparison. Hacking and slashing his way through the minions, John stops at nothing to get his man. Even if it includes stepping on a few toes and maybe even shooting a few of those toes off in the process.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37177[/img]“John Wick” is a pure revenge flick, much in the same vein as “The Equalizer” and “Taken”, but with that flair that only Keanu Reeves can pull off. The movie is downright brutal and dripping with the blood of a thousand minions, and still stays gleefully aware of its own cheese. I’m not saying that the movie goes into the crazy ridiculousness of sci-fi, but that it knows it’s cool, it’s bad and John Wick is the boogeyman himself. Or as Mob boss Vigo (Michael Nyqvist) says.,“John Wick is the man you send to KILL the boogeyman”. The action sequences are off the hook, with excellent choreography and lots of blood splatter to make you cheer and wince, all at the same time. There’s some awesome background characters, as we have cameos by Willem Dafoe, Daniel Berhnhardt (you may remember him from “The Matrix Reloaded”), Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizama, Ian McShane, and Lance Riddick (who seems to be EVERYWHERE since starring in “Fringe”). While there’s plenty of great talent to fill out the background, the foreground is jam packed with a VERY ticked off Keanu Reeves as he mows down more badguys than Liam Neeson did in all 3 “Taken” movies combined. Keanu’s martial arts background has been polished up again and the aging actor takes on the baddies with a style that hasn’t slowed down with his age. Michael Nyqvist plays the creepy (and rather terrified) mob boss exquisitely and the final battle just makes you grin with devilish glee as the villain gets his well-deserved punishment.
“John Wick” doesn’t try to be anything more than it is. It’s a revenge movie first and foremost, but it does it with so much fun, so much gusto, and so much brutal style, that you can’t help but love it. I know at this point you’ve got an eyebrow raised and are asking the question. “Ok Mike, how in blue blazes are you giving this a 5 star rating? The same rating something like “Schindler’s List”, “Godfather Part 2” and other classics have received”? My answer to that is very simple. It’s a 5 star movie in its genre. In the revenge flick genre, this one ranks up there with the greats like “Taken”, “Death Wish”, and the like. It is wonderfully self-aware of its own limitations and tongue in cheek action, but still has so much unadulterated fun as to make it irresistible, especially those of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90s and can related to those movies that don’t pull punches and rely on shaky cam to make an action sequence come to life. Keanu is back in top form, and this is one that very well may surprise people who have been watching for a spark of life from a very tired genre.
R for Strong and Bloody Violence Throughout, Language and Brief Drug Use.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37185[/img]I have started to become MILDLY disillusioned with catalog titles hitting Blu-ray due to 2K masters that just don’t pull the most out of their 4K home video discs. Even movies dropping directly from theaters are strangely being rendered in 4K masters and then upconverted rather than doing a native transfer (even with films that have a 4-6.5K source material at that), but “John Wick” was one of films that was given a 4K master back in 2015, and I have to say that the results are VERY impressive. There’s some definite increase in the fine detail in things like Johns suits, or the background of his hotel room when he’s lying there get blasted from Miss Perkins, but I found most of the appreciable benefits to come from the use of HDR and the well saturated colors and textures that show up as a result. The blacks are deeper and inkier, while the wild color grading that are employed throughout the film show some incredible hue and tone changes. The deep blues and greens that the movie switches between are beautifully saturated and show off some fantastic nuances that I never noticed in the Blu-ray before. As I said. I’ve become a bit leery of 4K catalog titles being that not every 4K release is created equal, but “John Wick” is definitely worth the upgrade in my humble opinion.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37193[/img]These Atmos tracks are a treat, as you can tell that Lionsgate and Paramount pictures are really putting a lot of effort into these flagship releases of the new audio format. Being that I can’t decode ATMOS itself at the moment, most of us have to do with the paltry 7.1 TrueHD core that comes with the disc (sarcasm dripping on PALTRY). Some of the earlier discs with Atmos tend to be a bit bloated and HEAVY on the LFE, cooked a bit hot and just loud as all get out. Now don’t get me wrong, those over aggressive tracks are awesome to have fun with, but “John Wick” takes a surprisingly different route as it is an extremely tight and clean track. The LFE is there is spades, but its articulate and crisp, never once sounding overly filled with LFE, or trying to drown out the rest of the track. The dynamic range is huge, with whispers of Russian mob members tickling you ear one moment, only to have the walls shake as a car slams into another car at ear splitting levels. The surrounds are in constant use as the gunfire blazes all around (pretty much nonstop) and displays some amazing directional queues at times. That LFE that I mentioned really can shake the walls, making hand guns sound like cannons, but still keep that very tight and punchy feel that we love so much.
• “Don't F*#% With John Wick” featurette
• “Calling in the Cavalry” featurette
• “Destiny of a Collective” featurette
• “Assassin’s Code” featurette
• “Red Circle” featurette
• “NYC Noir” featurette
• Audio Commentary with Filmmakers Chad Stahelski and David Leitch
It’s stylish, it’s filled with blood, guns, knives, explosions and awesome one liners. It looks fantastic and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray disc and certainly has breathed life into a tired genre that was drastically in need of a face lift. Keanu Reeves is not a brilliant actor, but when he does what he does best, magic happens. There’s a certain boyish charm that he exudes, even in his old age, that is irresistible and the effort he puts into his films is second to none. I guess you could say, the moral of this story is….Don’t mess with a man’s dog. While not a perfect film, it is a fantastic action movie and one that just runs red with blood and machismo. This 4K UHD upgrade is a good solid increase right where it counts. the Atmos track was stellar when it came out on Blu-ray and there's not really any way to give that a kick in the pants, so we get the same great audio experience, but the lovely visuals of the movie stand out so much better with a nicely done video encode that just screams style and quality. All extras are on board the Blu-ray as is the norm it seems, but since there are almost no extras in 4K resolution even ON 4K discs, it's not something to cry about. After 2.5 years, still a must watch.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen
Directed By: Chad Stahelski
Written By: Derek Kolstad
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 HEVC
Audio: ENGLISH: Dolby Atmos (7.1 TrueHD core), Spanish DD 5.1, English 2.0 for night listening
Runtime: 101 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 7th 2017
Buy John Wick On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Must Watch
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